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"Everyday Use" by Alice Walker critic my literary analysis essay


hicckups 2 / 2  
Apr 26, 2009   #1
I would like to know if I have any errors with my writing. I am not sure if some of my wording is correct or punctuations.

Alice Walker writes the short story "Everyday Use" in relation to herself as a little girl that was shot in the eye by a BB gun, similar to Maggie who was burnt in the house fire. Walker also had the chance to correct her eye and attended college just as the character Dee did. Walker portrays her characters to take in the African American heritage and be able to understand the values (Walker 3009). Walker writes "Everyday Use" with a historical feel, especially when Mrs. Johnson speaks about Maggie receiving the quilts her family made. Hence, Dee does not know the history behind the quilts and other family items. There are a number of ways that the African American heritage is portrayed, and conflicts arise with Dee tying to understand her heritage.

At first, Mrs. Johnson and Maggie are awaiting the arrival of her daughter Dee, who was fortunate enough to attend college. Mrs. Johnson was less fortunate and only received a second grade education. Since Dee had the chance to attend college, she thinks she is better than everyone else. Mrs. Johnson dreams about the day that Dee would treat her as a child would their mother. She dreams about the day Dee would embrace her pinning an orchid on her dress (Walker 3010). The moment Dee arrives home from college, she is a changed woman. Dee is someone that dresses and speaks differently, along with having a new name "Wangero". Thus, Dee is trying to find her true culture. Finding out where her family heritage is from and what backgrounds she may know (Walker 3015).

At the same time, Dee brought a young man home with her whose name is Asalamalakim. Asalamalakim is part of the black power culture at the college. During this time, Dee has conflicts with understanding her culture. Even though Dee is trying to get in touch with her heritage, she is confused about the difference with African Americans and Muslims. During their meal Dee ate the pork and collards that her mother prepared. Asalamalakim did not eat pork and collard for it was not kosher. Being Muslim, they do not eat pork, where as when Dee is eating pork she has a conflict of cultures (Walker 3014).

In the meantime, Dee sees the churn and dasher therefore she then asks her mother if she could have it (Walker 3014). In doing this Dee does not realize she is taking away the items her family needs for their everyday use. Mrs. Johnson wonders what would be Dee's use for the churn and dasher. Dee says to her mother, "I can use the churn top as a center piece for the alcove table, and I'll think of something artistic to do with the dasher" (Walker 3014). As a result, Dee does not use the items her family uses every day. Thus, Dee only sees it as a piece of art to show people where she is from. This is a conflict in ideas she has with understanding the African American culture.

Therefore, after dinner Dee goes through her mother's trunk and finds the quilts, Mrs. Johnson offered to Dee before she left to college. Dee did not take the quilt her mother offered her because she is ashamed of her family. Now Dee finds the quilts and says to her mother, "Can I have these old quilts?"(Walker 3014). During this time Dee finds out how the quilts were made and wants to have them to put up to show her culture. As a conflict Dee does not receive the quilts from her mother, as Mrs. Johnson has promised Maggie, she would receive them when she is married. Dee does not believe that her mother gave the quilts to her sister. For this reason, Maggie learned about their family's history through the quilt makings (Walker 3015). Maggie the youngest daughter learned how to make quilts and learned what her family members have contributed over generations.

In conclusion, Walker writes "Everyday Use" to have her reader's understand their own heritage. There are many different ways cultures can pass traditions down. In "Everyday Use" Walker uses the quilts and churn as a symbol of tradition with the different generations it has pass down to. For this purpose, Dee is learning about her heritage after she arrives home from college with a wider view on her African American roots. Mrs. Johnson has given explanations of the different people and things that were made to help their family through life. Maggie learns about their family roots and traditions by learning to quilt and live in a poor community.
silverystars 14 / 105  
Apr 27, 2009   #2
Hello,

You have something, but it needs some refining. That's why we're here!

I would rephrase your thesis into something that focuses and ties in better with your main body. The trick is that I'm not even sure myself the best way to do that: "In trying to understand her own African-American heritage, Dee..." ...does what?

Dee comes home from college and tries to get closer to her own heritage, but only does so, initially, in a shallow, materialistic sense. There are conflicts, sure, but, specifically, what kind? Though it might be obvious in the main body, it needs to be portrayed as well in your thesis. In other words, if the reader (i.e. your teacher) were to see only your introduction and conclusion, the gist of your essay should be loud and clear.

Also, I would clarify the passage about Asalamalakim and the conflict between Dee's culture and black power culture. It needs to relate directly to your thesis.

Alice Walker's short story "Everyday Use" contains a parallel to the author's childhood. As a little girl, she was shot in the eye by a BB gun, similar to how Maggie was burnt in a house fire.

During their meal, Dee ate the pork and collards that her mother prepared, which Asalamalakim did not eat. Being Muslim, he does not eat pork.

During this time, Dee finds out how the quilts were made and wants to have them to put up as a display of her culture. Dee, however, does not receive the quilts from her mother because she has promised Maggie she would receive them once she is married.

Keep going!
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Apr 27, 2009   #3
Awesome, Ned. We're lucky to have you.

Alice Walker writes the short story "Everyday Use" relates walker's story of herself as a little girl that was shot in the eye by a BB gun -- similar to Maggie who was burnt in the house fire.

Oh, I did not notice that Ned already fixed that one. Now you have two ideas. He is probably right to split it into 2 sentences.

Being Muslim, they do not eat pork, whereas when Dee is eating pork she has a conflict of cultures (Walker 3014).

In this one above, you do not need the page number because it is not a direct quote. However, it is a nice touch to add a specific page reference anyway. Pretty good!

Your MLA is good. Now, how about verb tense: You should write it all in the present tense, like you did here:

At first, Mrs. Johnson and Maggie are awaiting...

But do not go back and forth between present and past tense. It will be great if you do a revision with all present tense as you write about the story. If you do that, we can check for mistakes. Do you know what I mean about putting it in present tense?

It is very good!
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
May 1, 2009   #4
You say that Dee learns about her heritage, but you never specify exactly how this experience changes her. Does she come to realize that she is being too materialistic? Does she come to some great realization about her cultural background? Or does she miss the point, but in a way that allows the reader to come to a realization, either about black culture or about the importance of heritage generally? Answering these questions might lead you to a more focused thesis.


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